- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; Revised ed. edition (Sept. 14 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1553653599
- ISBN-13: 978-1553653592
- Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 1.3 x 19.7 cm
- Shipping Weight: 454 g
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #122,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
City of Glass (Revised): Douglas Coupland's Vancouver Paperback – Oct 10 2009
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"This is Coupland's attempt -- just in time for the Vancouver Olympics -- to answer the questions visitors always ask about the city he loves, even before they ask them." (Globe & Mail)
"The renowned Generation X author's humorous take on the area, from its drug culture ad tourist destinations to its people, food and film industry." (Daily Gleaner)
"Subjective in tone and sexy to look at, City of Glass is a delightfully outlandish travel book -- just the sort of whacked-out guide you wish every was available for every great city in the world." (Globe & Mail)
"Conversational text swatches are interwoven with brilliant photojournalistic images, giving us a flaneur's-eye-view of Vancouver." (National Post)
"Here are moments of sparkling insight, and a perceptive reframing of many familiar snapshots of the city, more than enough to make Coupland's tour worthwhile." (Maclean's)
About the Author
Douglas Coupland was born on a Canadian NATO base in Germany and raised in Vancouver, where he still resides. Among his best-selling novels are Generation X, Shampoo Planet, Polaroids from the Dead, Microserfs, Miss Wyoming, Hey Nostradamus! and Eleanor Rigby, altogether in print in some 40 countries. Coupland also exhibits his sculpture in galleries around the world, indulging in design experiments that include everything from launching collections of furniture to futurological consulting for Stephen Spielberg.
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Coupland describes Vancouver with many page-long vignettes, sort of like a patchwork quilt: he describes feng shui in Vancouver, Japanese teenagers, a harbour full of sulfur piles, American couples on "love boats," monstrous houses, and the quiet detachment that Vancouver feels from the Rest of Canada. (Which has its own entry -- really!)
Coupland's fiction is generally distinguishable for its contemplative, cynically witty tones. But he drops all that for "City of Glass." Okay, there is a chunk of "Life After God" in the middle, blurry text and pics. And occasionally the transcripts of Coupland's memories remind one of his fiction, seeming sadder and darker.
Most of the time, he sounds fond and reminiscent, as if reliving the memories that come with salmon and fleece. Not to mention funny, such as when describing the confusing disagreements about feng shui (" this space should flowwwwww" or "flow is to be avoided at all costs"). And the photographs are quite good as well, with Coupland taking pictures of the prosaic subjects of his book -- a sleepy-looking Japanese teen, a fleece vest, a boat floating out on a light-filled harbor, a skiier in mid-twist on a sunlit hillside.
"City of Glass" isn't exactly going to make you race to Vancouver, but it will make you appreciate the little hidden facets of the city -- and perhaps make you notice the ones in your own.
Vancouver is lushly fertile and starkly commercial, historical and modern; Vancouver is Every City, with an emergent personality all its own. Until you can get there to see it yourself, buy this book, keep it on your coffee table, and dive with Coupland into his own bizarre Vancouver dreams.
It's brochure like quality starts with the books physical form. City of Glass is bright and colorful'reminiscent of a sunny day in the city. Its cover is even colored in the omnipresent green and blue of Vancouver's branding.
The title of the book comes from Vancouver's large number of skyscrapers with glass or mirror fronts. Like the glass of it's title, Coupland's book reflects his personal memories of the city he loves.
Inspired by Japans underground 'zines', the book is an illustrated collection of vignettes and reflections on Vancouver. it takes readers on an alphabetical tour, from BC Ferries to YVR. Along the way, Coupland drops a lot of personal observations, historic trivia and often overlooked facts.
The book also includes a report of Coupland's essay, 'My Hotel Year,' previously published in Life After God. The essay is a nice intermission from the vignettes. It provides readers with a glimpse beyond the glass and into a gritty reality that is also part of Vancouver.
Interspersed throughout the book are some photographs of Vancouver at it's best and pictures of Vancouver, ephemera such as Campbell's soup cans with trilingual Cantonese/English/French labels and a salmon 'color fan.'
For Vancouverites, it's a source of boosterist pride, a good chuckle at some in-jokes, and perhaps enlightenment on why things are as they are. For people who have moved away, it's a book of memories, recollections of a city of glass and the people who make it. For people who have never been there, it's the tourist guide that talks about things the Lonely Planet won't. It's like having Mr Coupland sitting next to you as you make your way through our city. It's probably as close to an autobiography as he's ever written. The mark of Vancouver is on him as it's on me, and on everyone else who was raised there.
Yeah, I love my hometown.
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